A Debate About My Future

What determines my worth? Who determines whether I will make a good therapist or not? Because I’ve been through trauma, will that hinder my ability to be partial when providing care for a patient? I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions. Going back to school to study counseling is a major undertaking and not for the faint of heart. It has been a dream of mine to become a therapist for many years. My brother asked me the hard questions. This is what brothers are for. If I don’t have energy to study because of depression, and I am only just barely passing my classes, is that what I want to be for a therapist? A just-good-enough therapist? No, I want to be the best therapist that I can be. But I have limitations. I spend entire weekends just coddled up in bed. I don’t do anything. I just wait for the time to pass. I don’t spend my time studying. Of course, I’m not in school yet, but when I am? Do I want to be a just good enough therapist? Is that all I am destined to achieve?

I’m looking for a new job right now. A new job that will pay the bills, since my current job does not pay the bills and I am left scrambling to use my savings. It’s disheartening to say the least. And my lovely brother, the truth sayer in all of this, tells me that if I leave a new job after a year to pursue school, that I’ll be burning bridges. It’s very possible. That I would be burning a bridge if my new employer invests training into me and then sees me leave after a year.

I don’t know what my future is going to look like. I have anxiety just thinking about it. I mean, come on. If I can’t even bring myself to shower more than once or twice a week, due to depression, do you really think I am capable of showing up for a client, week after week, helping them to not end their life? I mean, you’d think I’d be capable of at least that. But of course I don’t want to be “just good enough.” I want to be the best that I can be. Help! Training is expensive. It doesn’t stop at grad school. There are so many hurdles to overcome. I need someone rich to adopt me so that my struggles for money don’t have to be so pervasive. I have friends whose education has been paid for them. They are the lucky ones, whereas I’ll be going into tremendous amounts of debt. But I have to take my situation into perspective. I can’t wish for something that I can’t have. That which I can’t have is financial security. How do people make ends meet? It’s a mystery to me.

There are days I just want to stay in bed and just not show up to life. I feel as if I could spend a year sleeping, just sleeping for 365 days straight and doing nothing else and that still wouldn’t solve my problems. My problem is that my past trauma prevents me from enjoying my life. There are days I just want to be, yes, I’ll say it, dead. There are days I don’t want to exist. There are hard days. There are not-so-hard days. I really, honestly, don’t know what to do with my life right now. I’ve been going through a series of job interviews, week after week, but is that really the answer? Should I just keep my current dead-end job for now because it has good health insurance, keep using my savings, and apply to grad school? I don’t know what the future holds. I know what I want and all I can do right now is to fight for that which I want.

Trying to Figure Out My Worth After Sexual Abuse

What am I worth? Am I worth a $90k a year job when I’ve been working very underpaid jobs for the last six years? Before that, I couldn’t even hold a job. I was so broken. Broken down from a relationship that exploited me. Some say I was sexually abused. I say I was sex trafficked. I was only worth what someone would pay to have sex with me in a hotel room or at home in our living room with my malnourished, anorexic body.

My tears are still dripping as I type this. I’m too dumbfounded by the realization that I’ve undervalued myself for so many years to wipe the tears away. Wet, shining, they caress my cheek as they find their ultimate resting place. What am I good at? In my opinion, not very much. I don’t have much to speak for myself. Yes, I can write a mean poem and then recite it wholeheartedly. It takes everything out of me to perform my poetry. I need an entire day of rest before and after if I’m the headliner for the open mic show.

I’m on my sixth interview with a company. It’s scheduled for Monday, in just a few days, with the founder of the company. I guess they want to make sure that I am the right person for the job. If I get the offer, the numbers in the approximation of $90,000 will be stamped in black and white. Of course, in that area of the country, the living costs are very high. Rent would be around $40,000 a year, so that brings the number down a bit, and with taxes taken out, well, I would still be able to save a bit of money. I want to go visit my aunt in Australia one day. That will cost a bit of money.

When I think about my malnourished self of around the age of 24, that was in 2008. It’s when I started seeing my therapist, who hasn’t left my side in over a decade. I call myself malnourished because my abuser, who was also my husband and pimp and sex trafficker (the pimping out started only when we had gotten engaged)… let me side track for a minute. I remember an attorney over the phone exclaiming stupidly to me: “You married your pimp?” I’ll never forget those words. To an outsider who doesn’t know my story, it may seem like that. But no, I married my high school sweetheart. Only, he wasn’t so sweet. I didn’t know what narcissistic personality disorder was back then. I didn’t know that people who are sexually abused as children either become abusers themselves, or they heal from it. He was the first of those two options. We dated and the screwed up sex stuff didn’t start until he “owned” me by putting a ring on my finger.

In 2012 when I was 28 I left that relationship. I had been seeing my therapist for four years. I couldn’t take it any longer, the abuse, that is. Don’t get me wrong. There was a part of me that didn’t want to leave him. I was trauma bonded to this abuser and thought that I loved him. I grieved that loss of relationship for many years. It was a long time before the anger came. I still feel angry now and then. The anger rears its ugly head in the form of suicidal ideation. When I’m furious, I think about ending my life. At times, this is really intense.

Back to the beginning of where I started out. I’m about to get or not get a really good job offer that no one in their right mind would refuse. But it would mean leaving a city that has been my home for so long, and leaving my friends behind, even though I don’t see them often anyway. Taking this job would mean delaying my dream of going back to school to become a psychotherapist. But am I ready to help others when I am still healing myself? A therapist who helps suicidal people not kill themselves and yet experiences suicidal ideation on her own terms?

I really don’t know what to do. What am I worth? Does my $22/hour job define my worth? I’ve wanted to take a $15/hour job as a mental health worker, but that would mean I would be using a minimum of $10,000 a year of the nest egg I got from my divorce, because yes, everyone, the narcissistic man who sex trafficked me was a promising young CEO of a technology company. That’s the only reason I can afford to work such low paid jobs in the first place is the “savings” that I have which aren’t savings but divorce severance from the profit of a company sale, a company which I, in a way, helped to build, because I was married to the man who was a founder. Enough technicalities. I’m being completely open and honest here, and I have no idea who is going to read this, or what you, reader, are going to think. Of me. Of my story. Of my latest conundrum.

Really my focus should be on healing. I should keep my underpaid job that has good health insurance, whilst using some of that nest egg every month to make ends meet, and heal, heal, heal. I need to heal and figure out what defines my value. God defines my worth. Not a job. Not the status of my mental health. Not my depressed thoughts and feelings which tell me lies. Not my trauma. Not my history. God defines my worth and I define my worth. That last one is tricky, because whilst God may value my existence and my soul, I do not. Whilst at the moment of creation, God knew that he was creating the makings of a masterpiece, here I am years later still wishing I were dead because the trauma in my mind won’t leave me alone.

Images and memories pop up constantly, uninvited and intrusively pushing their way in to my present moment, making the nine years in which I have been safe from my abuser seem like the blink of an eye, and I am being raped, in my mind, in the present, by men whose faces all blur into one unpleasant, gruff essence of “man” and “abuser” and “rapist.” What I need to find out, before I start graduate school, again, is what I am worth. The truth is that I am worth my weight in gold. Gold is the word that God gave to me when Ruth and I were praying together.

A Letter About a Conundrum

Dear Friend,


This letter is going to be long. I’m expecting it to be equivalent to a three page document. I don’t know yet. Open forum, flow-of-consciousness type writing where I express my thoughts freely with the bonus of having you as my ultimate audience. So I think I need to thank you in advance. Thank you for taking interest in me as a person, that you would be willing to let me bounce my ideas and ponderings off of you. I hope to gain some clarity through this soliloquy, but my guess is that it will only confirm what I do know: that I don’t know what to do with my life over the next 30 years.


My therapist is well-versed in my hypotheticals, as well as my life history. He is patient and listens to me do a round robin over and over again out loud, in my mind. Somehow, I’ll just start telling my story. My biggest concern right now, is finances, and not being able to make ends meet, using my savings to cover my approximate $500 a month shortfall due to my low income. But it isn’t that low… it could be lower. Money wasn’t always an issue for me. When I was married and in the abusive relationship, we made enough money with both of our incomes for my abuser to do expensive hobbies like flying jets and sailing, going on expensive vacations to Cape Cod and New England. It was always what he wanted, I never had a say. Then we separated and alimony ended shortly thereafter and I was forced to go back into the world of employment. I’ve only just now come to the realization that ever since I left my abusive relationship I’ve allowed myself to work low-paid and underpaid jobs. Probably because I haven’t valued myself as a person, as a human being. I’ve always just scraped by financially in the last six years.


There, I’ve written up two lovely paragraphs and managed to say very little or absolutely nothing. So I shall continue. I’ve been interviewing for jobs lately. It has been very stressful, working full-time and doing between one to three interviews a day for the last two weeks. A recruiter from the Bay Area found my resume and contacted me. She has been facilitating me getting some interviews with companies near San Francisco. My family, specifically, my brother, lives in the Bay Area, so I do have an interest in moving if the right job at the right salary were to come my way. The only thing is, my brother won’t live in San Jose forever, just maybe for the next five years. It is likely that he will leave for a different state eventually. So if I moved, if I got a job offer and were to accept it, I would have around five years of paying roughly $40,000 a year in rent whilst living within a two hour drive of my brother, and maybe seeing him once a month as opposed to my current trajectory of seeing him once a year, maybe twice if I am lucky.


The other reason for wanting to move to the Bay Area is because I want to, yes, I’ll say it: rescue my Mum. She is financially tied to her emotionally abusive spouse of the last 20 years and although it would be very difficult living with her, as our personalities couldn’t be further apart, I want to give her an option of leaving her relationship and moving in with me. I’ve been interviewing for a job that could offer a $90,000 salary, so although $40k of that $90k would go to rent, it would still be enough to live off of, after taxes have been taken out. I would be able to afford to pay rent for a two bedroom place without my Mum having to contribute to the rent, where she could live and finally retire, if she so chooses. She currently works a very humbling job delivering food for a living on apps like Uber Eats and the likes. She earns less than minimum wage and pays almost $1,000 a month just for her health insurance. She and her abusive husband have savings, but it won’t last forever. She has talked about separating from that relationship for many years, but has not left. The likelihood that she would actually leave him and choose to move in with me? Slim. So one of the main reasons for me looking at moving to the Bay Area is because my Mum is from there, wants to live there and not in the rainy city where she currently is living, and the likelihood that she would actually move in with me, my whole reason for moving, is close to none. Yet I remain hopeful.


These are the things that have been on my mind lately. And then you texted me, ever so timely, right before my sixth interview with a company coming up on Monday, which will be the deciding interview that will determine whether I get this $90k offer up in the Bay Area. And the thing is, if I move, I plan to stay there for a while. Like at least the next 10 years, if not longer. I don’t want to keep moving around, so it would be permanent for a while. The job would be hard and challenging, not easy. It’s a client service associate position servicing extremely high net worth clients in managing their wealth and their financial investments. It’s a job I’ve done before, which is why this company is looking at possibly hiring me. But then I wouldn’t apply for the program at the University to get my LPCC. Hence your timely text message.


You see, if I stay here, I will likely apply to the Community Based Block Program, for which you’ve already expressed interest, ever so gallantly, in writing one of my three recommendation letters needed for the application. I realize they accept applications only every two years, of which this year is one of those application years. If I were to be accepted into the program I would start in the Fall of 2022, which opens a whole other can of worms in terms of financial concerns and worries. And the other question is, what do I do in the year between now and Fall of 2022? Do I work an underpaid job, or worse, even a severely underpaid job, continue to use my savings, until I can take out some student loans to help pay for tuition and living expenses? Or do I try my best to get a decently paid job for the next year, so I don’t have to worry about money, and stay in here? Because if I take the job in the Bay Area, “if” being the key word since I haven’t gotten a job offer yet, then it would take me away from this city and the CBB program. At least temporarily, because the funny thing is, and there’s really nothing “funny” to it, merely “odd”, is that I feel if I move away from here I’m going to end up coming back here anyway, eventually. This has been my home for so many years and I’m really tied to this city. I do have friends here but what keeps me here, primarily, I suppose is the familiarity and… my therapist.


My therapist has been my rock and my world for the past twelve or more years. I also don’t want to move away from him. But eventually, maybe in a few years, he will be moving regardless. He will keep his private practice but move away from here because this city is really just too expensive for the average person with an average income to live in. So, whether I move or stay in this city, eventually, sooner than later, my sessions with my therapist will no longer be in person, and over Zoom instead. I dread not seeing him in person anymore, but I think I would be able to get used to video sessions, which we’ve actually done in the past. I won’t even mention Covid, but throughout the pandemic I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to still see him in person. So, my therapist is another consideration, though my contact with him, whatever decision I make, whether I move or stay, will not end. Thankfully.
I have a good job right now. It just doesn’t pay much. Not quite enough. One thing I’m grateful for is the good health insurance coverage. It allows me to see my psychiatrist and to be able to take my inexorably expensive antidepressant medication at a reasonable cost. I’m also not challenged often enough at my job, but it is a good job. The only thing is, I would rather be making more money in exchange for a little bit more job stress, so I wouldn’t have to worry about using my savings each month. Because eventually my savings will run out and this is not a sustainable trajectory.


The other thing is, I so desperately want to work in the field of mental health now, but unless I have a master’s degree the pay is deplorable. I currently earn $22/hour, have a housemate helping with the rent, and don’t make ends meet. Imagine if I were to work as a Mental Health Worker at $15/hour, I would be using at least $10k a year of my savings just to pay rent and other relevant, non-extravagant expenses, for I do not live an extravagant lifestyle and am pretty frugal. But that’s what my heart wants to do. My heart and my linear, logical left brain side do not speak the same language, nor do they communicate very often. I want to work a shitty paid job, use up a significant amount of my nest egg, just so I can get experience in the mental health field. Because if I had my master’s degree already, I would be able to earn enough in that field to not use up too much of my savings. So, these are some other thoughts and considerations. Do I take a shitty job for a year before I “start” my master’s degree, saying I get into the program, and use up my savings by a significant amount? I keep saying “savings” but these are not savings. This is money I got from my divorce. There’s no way I’ve had nearly enough income to be able to save any money in the last six years.


Do I keep going? Do I keep boring you with my inundating thoughts? Because I’m not done. Can you see why I wanted to write you an essay before having a two-hour conversation over all of this? I’ve wanted to go into the field of counseling for at least, let’s say since 2016, possibly even before, though I can’t imagine that I could have imagined the possibility of becoming a therapist sooner than 2016, given the course of my healing journey from that abusive situation I was in during my 20s. In 2017 I did a stint of a semester at Azusa Pacific University. I was the only other student in the cohort working full-time whilst going to school and frankly, my mental health couldn’t handle it, so I took a break from school and eventually withdrew from the program. I didn’t get to know a lot of other students during that time, but one student was married and able to afford tuition by using her husband’s GI bill I believe. So with a spouse paying living expenses, rent, etc., she could afford to go to school. Another student had money and a spouse in China paying her tuition and expenses. Another student was also from money, and commuted from his parent’s home in Encinitas. Yes, living at home with your parents as a grown adult isn’t pretty, but it beats paying rent. I qualified for one loan which covered tuition at the time, but did not qualify for another loan to cover any of my living expenses. Hence, I still had to work full-time. My plan had been to work part-time and go to school with more focus on studying but I didn’t know that I didn’t qualify for the loan until I had applied for the loan just before the semester began. The reason I didn’t qualify for the loan? I filed for bankruptcy in 2015 because of hospital bills from my illness.


I could make school work. I could work part-time, take out loans, I could make it work. But if I get that job offer in the Bay Area, do I just say “no” to it? Do I say “no” to the possibility of rescuing my Mom? She took care of me for 18 years and I want to be able to take care of her one day. And what will the recruiter think of me, if I say no to a job offer she worked so hard on getting for me? Ultimately, I’m the selling point. I’ve been the one doing the interviews, and it’s me who is the value added to the company if they decide they want to hire me. But all of this is premature, because I may not even get a job offer.


I’ve exhausted my typing ability. I could write more but the rest doesn’t make sense unless we talk in person. I’m actually looking for advice here. From you. My therapist, he won’t give me advice. He’s in the business of helping me figure things out on my own. A very good friend, my aunt Ruth in Australia who has a lot of wisdom, and my mom, all three of them do not think that going back to school for counseling is a good idea at this time in my life. But it’s over a year away, potentially. I can do a lot of healing groundwork in that year. Know too, that I’ve had many suicide attempts in the past, including my last one in 2019, and one attempt at the end of 2018. The material that we study in psychology is triggering. Yet, there is a part of me that still wants to do it, still says, I can help people. I can be like my therapist and give back by helping people, by giving them counseling, in a way that someone without my past history could not do. But there are also many ways of “giving back” and helping people. I don’t have to become a therapist, even though that’s what I’ve wanted for so many years.


Thanks for listening. End soliloquy. To be continued at another point in time.

My Life Status and the School Debate

Life is really good right now. I’m not sleeping away my weekends. Having a job has gotten easier, after having been unemployed for six months last year. I’m not suicidal and when those thoughts come up I am able to tolerate them and know that they eventually will go away. I know I haven’t done as much writing in this blog at all really, but I have been writing poetry and for me, poetry is Life.

I’m really torn at whether or not to go back to school in the Fall of 2022. Which would mean I would be applying this Fall, a year ahead of time. My aunt and my mom and several other people who are important to me do not think that going back to school would be a good idea. The main reason being, the topic and subject material. I want to go into clinical counseling and then become a therapist. I would be going for the track of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, or LPCC. It’s something I’ve had my heart on for a very long time. But the main reason I want to become a therapist? It’s because I love my therapist. I love my therapist of 12 years. It’s possibly been 13 years that I’ve been working with him now. I love him so much. He’s been like a father figure to me. The father figure I never had. The friend I never had. The person who sticks by my side and never leaves me. And I want to be just like him.

My aunt, whom I love very much, says I am not my therapist. I am my own person. I would have to go back to school for the right reasons. Not because I want to be like my therapist but because… well, for my own reasons. I can’t think of any just that I want to help people. There is a lot to be said for that reason alone. Helping people is a passion of mine and I want to do it professionally. My aunt says that I don’t know what a healthy relationship between a couple looks like. Well, that’s true. I had a shitty run of a six year marriage which turned out to be an abusive relationship. I haven’t been in a relationship since and it’s been, how long? Nine years. Next year will have been the decade mark since I left my abuser. He’s in another relationship now, married again, and this time with a child. I shudder to think of the abuse that might be occurring. But it’s not my problem anymore. I got away, alive, with my life and I’ve managed, after all of the psychological trauma I endured, to not die from suicide attempts. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve attempted suicide. I just have managed to not die from the attempts. No need for any details there.

So the dilemma. What are the reasons I want to go back to school to become a professional helper, a therapist? Well, I have this burning desire to do something meaningful with my life. I hate my current job, absolutely hate it. I’m an administrative assistant at a company, so I do administrative work, and it is not fulfilling whatsoever, and it pays shit too. I don’t get paid much, barely enough to cover my bills. Oh, another consideration of going back to school would be the debt I would incur. It would be about $80,000. Kind of like having a mortgage, it’s a commitment. I don’t think having school debt is such a bad thing and I’m not worried about it. What I worry about, what my family worries about, is the emotional toll the subject material would take on me. A lot of the psychology material can be triggering for me, given my past history of trauma. I don’t know. I’m in a conundrum. I will have to sit with this discomfort of the not knowing what to do, and ponder. Really think hard about what I want to do with my life.

Here’s the other thing. I want to have a child. I may not end up having a child but I would like to have one. I would be starting school at the age of 38 and not finishing until I am 40 or 41. That’s pretty late in life to think about having a child. So that’s another consideration I really have to think about. I have a bit of time left in my child-bearing years and technology and IVF can help along the way. I just don’t know, don’t know what to do right now and will have to give everything some more thought. Talk to people. Get more opinions.

To Believe in Myself

How is it so early still? I have over an hour before bedtime. Today marks my official vacation from school. Call it a vacation or a leave of absence or a break… call it whatever. The point is that, I’m free. Free to do whatever the hell I want without actually having to study! I’m quite happy about this and not being in school right now is a great decision for me. I have a feeling I’m going to be writing a lot in the next weeks…

Therapy tonight went really well. When I am really excited and I want to say something, sometimes I just open my mouth really wide and smile with my eyes, mouth, eyebrows and face wrinkles. My whole face lights up but I can’t get the words out, not just yet. So my therapist said, “It’s okay, you can say it.” A couple more hesitations and I am able to speak. I have been writing poetry!

I have written five poems in six days. These aren’t just little poems, they are well-thought-out compositions of a sizeable length in terms of stanzas. There’s rhyming going on as well as alliteration, one of my most favourite literary devices. “Haunted House” was the first alliteration example which popped into my head when describing this to my therapist. At first, when I was trying to think of the literary term, I thought of onomatopoeia. But that’s like “plop,” “swoosh,” or “drip.” We came up with these examples together today. It was so much fun talking with my therapist.

When I brought up the name of a person I hadn’t talked about in therapy before, it was hard. Difficult because I was trying to explain that she likes me, as a friend, and wants to hang out with me. She’s a classmate and I just don’t know why she likes me so much her face lights up when she sees me. She gives me the best greetings and there is so much positivity.

I think there is this part of me that doesn’t think I am likeable. Like I’m not worthy of her attention, maybe because she seems so wonderful and is so beautiful that I cannot measure up to her. I barely know her but she has been lovely so far. I emitted some tears in therapy while talking about this, without articulating out loud the self-deprecating parts of my thoughts. Why would I be loveable? How could I be loveable and likeable when for so many years I was put down to the ground and had my ego, pride and heart stepped upon so heavily that I became damaged.

I am no longer damaged. I am whole again. I have a life worth living. I have people around me who do love me, who want to be around me, who care. The fact that I add to the lives of others is huge. If I can effect positive change, even just to change someone’s moment (not even day) from negative or neutral to positive, well then that moment was worth being alive for.

This has been the main theme (German: Hauptthema) of my poetry this week: my strength and my resilience. Today during my lunch break I went down to my car, sat in the front seat with the windows rolled down (it was quite hot, surprisingly) and typed into my phone notepad an angry poem direct at my ex-abuser called “The Peace You’ll Never Know.” It was incredibly cathartic and I wrote it in a way in which other people could relate.

I love getting feedback on my poems. I write my poetry based upon my emotional state and it expresses exactly how I am feeling in that given moment. It is very therapeutic. That is why I also like to immediately send out my poems and share them with key people in my life so they can know how I am doing. I blind copy everyone. I always include my therapist, my mum, my brother, and a few friends. Sometimes I will also send it out to my psychiatrist, a former professor, my aunt in South Africa, and now I’m sharing with my massage therapist. See, the thing is, I like feedback. I crave feedback and validation. Of course, I don’t mind if someone doesn’t respond, and simply reads it, or maybe doesn’t read it. But if I get a response, I know you read it, and the fact that you had something to say about it even if it’s a monosyllabic “wow” or “beautiful” really means a lot to me. Thank you, friends, for validating my creative art, which is so personal.

My dog is napping by my side. He is so sweet and snores and I love it. I go to bed every night hearing his breathing and it is so comforting to me. He’s all of 12 pounds and a lovely older dog who isn’t very active and just likes to sleep and cuddle. For me, it’s the perfect fit. Normally I would be laying with him right here on the couch. Falling asleep on my comfy couch is one of my favourite things to do. But right now, I am just feeling so alive. I feel so engaged in my life. I feel motivated to write, to share, to express, to articulate, to pontificate, to feel, to reflect, to absorb, to listen. I just want to write and then read what I’ve written and process it, reflect on it, let it sink in.

I want to know that I am doing okay. I want to validate that I am okay. I want to write poetry and journal entries and in writing them, I have given of myself in a very personal way. It is my way of giving back to the world, what the world has given to me. It’s a way that I contribute for the betterment of humanity. Writing is my gift, my desire, my passion, and I want to put it out into the world. I want to share this part of myself, because I live and breathe my poetry and I can’t help it. One day I’m going to publish. This I know, this I want, in this and in myself, I believe.

What I Can Do

I have to come to realize that I do not need that master’s degree in marriage and family therapy in order to do good in this world. I already do good in this world, and I can do so much more. I can raise a child to become a kind, forgiving, generous and respectful individual who will, as I have, contribute so much to this world, to our community, and add to the lives of others. I have a calling to become a mother. That is what I am choosing to focus on. I am going to start dating again, and even if I do not find a partner to raise my child with, I am going to have a child. I am 33 now and in the first part of next year I will be 34. Give me two years of building resilience and additional healing, and you’ll have a strong mother who can give of herself even in her worst moments. It might not happen in two years, but that is the hope I am holding onto. This is the future I choose for myself.

My leave of absence from the MFT program starts next week. I can take up to 12 months off while still retaining my enrollment place in the program. I could start up again in January 2019 or sooner. After that I will lose my place in the program and if I want to return I would have to reapply. I’m okay with that.

I have two dreams in my life. One is to become a therapist. The other is to become a mother. I see now that I don’t have to make all of my dreams come true. My strongest calling is to have a family and to become a mother. I can fulfill that dream first, and maybe when the kids are grown, I can go back to school and fulfill that second dream. It doesn’t mean I can’t listen to and read books about therapy and psychology. I am still fascinated by the human mind, the human psyche, and always will be. That will never die. Passion fuels my will to live, my will to achieve higher heights, and my desire to bring meaning to my life.

Life now has meaning, and I am building upon that. I am so worthy of this life. I am fortunate to be alive and to be able to wake up every day even if I don’t feel like it. I am fortunate to have my brother and my mum and my therapist in my life. They are the three most meaningful relationships I have. Nothing else matters, truth be told. I will always have those connections, no matter what, and there is not even the remotest possibility of experiencing abandonment from either of them. A part of them will always be with me, even when their physical bodies are gone. They will live within my heart.

I spend a lot of time daydreaming about being pregnant, and of having a small child in the home where I live now. I have truly made this into a home. It doesn’t matter if I cannot afford much, or afford to have the whole place to myself. It’s okay to have roommates. It’s okay to do what you need to do in order to live and get by. As long as those things you do are lawful things. I truly have a home. I have a place to call home. I have built my life from the inside out, and this home is the physical manifestation of all of the hard work I have put into my mind and my body. I have invested a lot in myself and it shows. The truth, the fact that “I am okay,” is resoundingly clear. I am safe now and no one can take that safety away from me. No one.

I imagine my sweet little dog being sweet with my baby and cuddling with my baby on the bed. My dog is an older dog of about 6 years old, not too old, and I adopted him on April 30th of this year. He sleeps with me and we do a lot of things together. We are often next to each other in the home. I have a small home, but it is big enough for the two of us and my dear roommate. I have gotten very lucky with roommates these last couple years, but I can also attribute that to my wise choices and good judge of character.

I got a raise this year. I went from not being able to cover my monthly expenses to making being able to make ends meet. The cost of living where I live is quite high, higher than most places. I also have certain important expenses which add up, such as paying for psychotherapy out of pocket. Even though the therapy is on a sliding scale, it still adds up. It is not uncommon for me to pay $800 per month in therapy fees, although lately I have been able to stretch that over two months because I have been doing better.

A friend recently suggested I start a blog for a magazine. I think that isn’t such a bad idea! I would love to put my real name out there and express myself to unknown readers. I already do that here, but my blog is for the most part quite anonymous. I also have my poetry. I have several hundred poems, and I have to say, they are quite brilliant. My mum recently told me about Rupi Kaur and I listened to her first book of poetry called “Milk and Honey” on Scribd. It’s really good. Her book has been a best-seller. I tell you, my poetry is that good or better. I have a story to tell and I tell it in sonnets and run-on sentences broken into paragraphs of words which sing songs of my life story. I wish that publishing poetry wasn’t so difficult. I think that publishers think that poetry won’t sell, won’t make any money, and therefore they won’t take on authors and offer contracts. I want to record my poetry and put it into an audio book. I want to do so many things.

I would have never known that graduate school isn’t for me had I not gotten here. Don’t get me wrong: I think I would be an incredibly effective therapist. I would be good at the craft. I could heal people through talk therapy and I could do for others what my therapist has done for me. But I don’t need a degree in order to help others. I can do that as I live my every day. I can smile at my co-workers and add value to my office, work hard and be good at what I do. I can offer my rescued dog a good life, and live peacefully with my roommate and find a man with whom I want to raise a child and build a family. That’s what I can do.

I Have Skills

It has been some time since I have last taken the time to write. I write every day to my therapist, and that is a part of my therapy, but this here is for me. My friend recently got me into drinking kombucha, and so I have a cup of organic kombucha perched to my side with my usual white comfort blanket on my lap, my computer on top of that blanket, and my dog to my left snuggled up close to my leg, looking at me with his ever-present snoring-type breathing letting me know he is definitely there.

I have these tasks on my calendar that I keep rescheduling. One of them is to “renew my U.K. passport” which expired many years ago. There is a certain mental block I have about this task, along with other tasks, which is preventing me from doing it. In fact, it has been on my “task list” all year long. Something about taking the effort to research online how to go about doing this and then having to step-by-step follow that process, which may include going to an appointment, and/or going to the post office. Reality is the stories we tell ourselves and I guess the story I have been telling myself all year is that this is a cumbersome task that I “should” do one day but that is down there with the lowest of my priorities. After all, I have my U.S. passport which I did take the effort to renew.

I saw my psychotherapist today. I have never, ever, ever seen him on a Sunday (okay maybe once years ago when I was seeing him 7 days a week). But Sundays are typically a person’s day off. Yes, he works 6 days a week and his days are incredibly full. I don’t know how he does it. He is awake by 6:00 in the morning and sometimes gets home as late as 10:00 at night (that’s 22:00 for the Europeans). He says he paces himself throughout the day. That’s just unfathomable to me, although in the past when I started grad school I was leaving at 8:00 and getting home at 10:00 but that was only once a week and it wore me out!

I have decided to take a leave of absence from school. I haven’t been able to concentrate on my one grad school class that I stayed enrolled in this semester. I am going to finish out the semester until mid-December but then I can take up to a year off while still being enrolled in the program. That would mean I would go back to the program Spring 2019. But, see, I don’t know if that is going to happen. Because I don’t even know any longer if I actually want to become a psychotherapist. No one could have prepared me for how incredibly involved and difficult a graduate level class can be. To be honest, it’s just too hard. It takes so incredibly much in terms of study and training to become a therapist… I had no idea!! I takes a very special person to go through with entering such a career. Very special.

My therapist is very special. He is my therapist. I am proud and possessive/protective of that fact. He has always told me, from the very beginning of my journey to grad school a few years ago, that there are many ways to contribute (to society). I can smile at an old lady at the grocery store, or let someone in front of me on the freeway. Plus, I have to remind myself, that just by being me, I add to the lives of those I know and those who love me. I sometimes forget that I am loved and often feel unable to love myself. I would rather tell my therapist that I love him, instead of proclaiming that I will one day come to love myself. Love is a huge part of the therapist-patient relationship. A strong bond and connection develops and just the therapeutic relationship alone, not taking into account interventions, is a major contributor to the healing of someone who suffers.

Last week I was in a lot of pain. One thing that I still need to be reminded of often is that “feelings come and go, but I remain.” I didn’t come up with that, but it is a brilliant mantra. That’s something I want to hold onto.

This week I am taking a plane to go see my Mum and her husband in the little town they moved to earlier this year. They had lived in their previous place for 17 years. Imagine that. That is a long time. Now they have a much smaller place and most of my Mum’s stuff is in storage. Of course it’s going to be messy and packed, because my wonderful Mummy is still a hoarder. But there will be room on the twin bed in the second bedroom for me to sleep, and that’s all that matters. I would even get a hotel room if I had to, but that’s not necessary. We are both looking forward to seeing each other.

She wants to know what I am doing for Christmas, but I told her I don’t want to decide until the last moment. It might be best for me to stay local and take some days off just for me, to relax and to take care of my mental health. She is going to be driving across two states to where she used to live and stay with her dad. This is mainly because all of her precious photographs are in boxes and boxes at her father’s house. He let her store them there, but we don’t know how much longer he is going to live and Mum is afraid of what the brothers might do to the home when my grandfather is gone. She doesn’t want to lose her photographs. They are her most prized possessions. They hold evidence for the life she has lived, and they validate the past and everything which once was. In a way, she lives in the past as she often talks about my father, who died when I was three and a half. She has memories that come up, but of course she cannot discuss them with her current husband. He’s not a nice guy.

It will be two whole weeks before my next appointment with my therapist. That is because I am traveling this week, and so, it’s my choice. But you know what? I happen to know that I am going to be okay. I am going to be okay because even if my emotions soar to a height of an anxious emergency, feelings come and go but I remain. And I have coping skills. Over the years in therapy, I have learned how to take care of my emotional self, which also involves taking care of my physical self, such as eating. It’s all interconnected. I have the skills and I am going to use them.

A Reflection

To my Therapist,

I have been needing to write you a proper email since yesterday. I could have written to you several pages worth of material. The last two days have been very trying. Full of things to think about. Lots has happened. I won’t even know where to start in therapy tomorrow.
You know it’s strange not feeling suicidal when I get overwhelmed now, these days. I think about how I used to obsess about the idea of jumping off the overpass over the freeway by my house, or even longer ago, about jumping off of the big bridge near downtown. I think about having really wanted to take an overdose in the past and being really convicted that it was the right thing to do.
Now I don’t think of dying or wanting to end my life. I came very close to telling my program director about my history of sexual abuse and trauma. I told her some other things that maybe I shouldn’t have said. I even volunteered to tell her about my fertility treatments, because she is a mom and a therapist and I thought she would understand. Did I want empathy? No. I just wanted to share something very personal with her because she had participated in the expressive arts team building exercises and I felt closer to her. But maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I did.
I have to talk with you about what to do with my volunteer job and whether to quit. I need help in thinking this through. I would also like to cry and have some healing tears with you because I feel like I have a lot to cry about, but who knows if I will even cry at all in the next couple days. I almost cried twice today at university. One was when the mentors were talking about finances and funding the education because I feel like I failed since I got denied the second loan. If I had gotten it each year I could have stayed on the three year graduation track. But wasn’t it me who said to myself just the other week that I have a lot of personal growth to do and if I can spend an extra year in personal therapy working through my own issues then I will be doing my future clients a favour and that I won’t have so much countertransference?
I just need tomorrow to come so that I can sit with you in therapy. We only have one hour. Let’s see what we can accomplish in one hour, 50 minutes. It’s never enough time yet it’s exhausting and more than that in a day wouldn’t be good for my health.
I just want the end of tonight to come so I can finally go to bed and just let go of everything I am holding on to and just dissolve into the night. Can you help me to disappear for just a little while from my busy, complex, over committed and over involved life, just for a bit? I was really hoping we could do more therapy soon again but I remembered my Mum is coming to town on Monday. I still want to try to get her to meet you next week on Saturday if you are available, just like we tried to do last time that first week of December. Does she really live to where she moved? Has it only been nine months since she was last here, in my home, in this city? Does she really still deliver food for a living and how can she even tolerate her life with that awful husband who is less than even a roommate in terms of their interpersonal connection to each other?
I have to stop now. See you very soon.

In Learning About Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

First week of grad school, done! I did it. I made it. I am here. One of my classes is Theories of Psychotherapy and Counseling. Chapter 3 is about psychodynamic psychotherapy. At the end of our first class, after we had gone over the first two chapters, the professor asked who would like to do the role play for psychodynamic psychotherapy (yes, it is a mouth full to say). My hand shot up. I was the very first person to volunteer. You see, I have an inkling that part of the type of therapy I have been in for the last nine years is just that, based on that theory.

I met with my therapist today to get help on my assignment and do some role play practice. It was very helpful. You see, I read the entire chapter, which took me about 4.25 hours over two days, and if I had to recite or recall anything from the chapter, well, I don’t think I would do so well.

Here is the scenario that we came up with. I am the therapist and my client is AM (Adult Male). AM is married to a woman who works in the theater industry and is always gone at night doing plays. AM works in the banking industry at a 9 – 5 job and when he comes home at night the house is always empty and he feels lonely. In addition to that his wife recently made them get a dog and she is never home to take care of the dog so he is always walking the dog. AM is not sure if he wants to stay in this marriage. I tell him I can imagine that this must be very difficult for him.

I ask him if there was ever another time where he has felt like this before. He reflects and tells me that when he was a kid his mom and dad worked very hard at their careers and he knew they loved him but that he was self-sufficient and a lot of the time he took care of himself. He says again that his parents loved him very much but looks down and to the side while saying it. As a therapist I notice this nonverbal gesture and realize that what was said may not be accurate as per AM’s perception, but this is his defense mechanism by defending his parents.

I tell him, “I notice you looked down when you said that and shifted your position. Tell me about what is happening on the inside for you.” He says, “I don’t know, I guess this topic makes me uncomfortable.” I say, “what is it like sitting with this discomfort?” “It doesn’t feel good,” he replies. “No, I bet it doesn’t.”

Shift of topic. I ask him what the experience was like when he was left alone and he says it was fine, really. I point out that just as AM’s parents were often gone, his wife is often gone and what does he think about that? I don’t know, he replies. “I think there might be a connection there, that maybe it is no coincidence that you chose to marry a person who is very involved with and focused on her career, just like with your parents.” It’s just something to notice, maybe a pattern.

This scenario happens during the working phase of treatment, not the initial phase. The scene with my scene partner only needs to be 10 – 20 minutes long. We can record it on video ahead of time, which is what I will be doing, or we could present the scene live in class. Either way the professor is going to help us to interpret the style of therapy, point out elements of the theory which were applied noticing interventions used.

I used empathy in the beginning when I said this must be hard for him. I guess what the intervention would be at the end is providing some insight as to the connection between the past and the present. I just added in the paragraph of how the therapist focuses on the here and now moment and his reaction to telling me about his past, insisting that his parents loved him even though he may have felt abandoned or neglected by them.

For each case, I am to come up with a case conceptualization and then a treatment plan. The treatment plan goes over the goals for the initial, working, and closing phases of treatment. For each goal listed there needs to be a set of interventions which I am going to use. Just the term itself, “intervention” is new to me and although by definition I know what it means, to intervene in a way which provides a positive outcome, I barely know what the interventions are. I know that using empathy might be a type of intervention but I don’t know what else is. I will have to refer back to the textbook.

Musings

Just some thoughts jotted down on electronic medium. When school starts on the 29th I won’t really have time to post blogs or write in journals any longer. I don’t know how I am going to manage working full time and taking nine graduate level class units but somehow I will figure it out. Luckily this MFT program has part-time options available so if I need to I can drop down to six units a semester instead of nine. Twelve units is considered full-time.

I found out on Wednesday that my second Federal PLUS loan, which is based on credit history, got denied two days prior. I thought the reason they were offering me the loan is that it had already gotten approved. My modified plan had been to drop down to working 20 hours a week part-time so that I could focus on my studies and then supplement the rest of my living expenses with that additional loan. Now, the only loan I have is the maximum unsubsidized federal loan which is not dependent on credit, at $20,500 per year. That just barely covers the cost of my tuition and in no way covers any of my living expenses. When I am done, for tuition alone, I am going to be $60,000 in debt which, all things considered, is better than the $120k in student loans I was considering on taking so that I could afford to work part-time. And I am not going into a money-making profession. It just might take me a decade or more to pay it off, not to mention I want to have a child or two, for whose college tuition I would then want to start saving and investing, before my own loans have even been paid off. Lots of things to consider.

My roommate’s friend from the other side of the country has moved in with us and is staying for an indeterminable amount of time. What I initially understood was that she was to be staying for a month, for which I generously, maybe too generously, had said she doesn’t need to pay rent. But when she arrived I asked her when she is leaving and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know.” At my landlord’s suggestion I will start charging her a low monthly rent fee after the 30 days are up. It’s only fair for her to contribute to the household. In the meantime I will assign her house chores like cleaning, which I rarely get around to myself anyway. Dust is sometimes abundant in my room.

At least she will be walking my dog during the day since she isn’t working right now. She also brought her little chihuahua and so we have two dogs and one cat in the house. She and my roommate went off to Hawaii last week and so I have been looking after the animals by myself. I don’t mind it and I don’t even mind the extra company. I just shouldn’t maybe be as nice as I am with not making her pay rent.

I had broccoli florets with hummus for lunch, which wasn’t much. So I just made some pasta and I am now full, thankfully. Being full is a good feeling to have. I don’t like feeling hungry and I will sometimes overeat just because of the fear of maybe feeling hungry later on. It’s a new and recent development that I have taken on a fear of being hungry. It started while I was in summer school, having to bring lunch and dinner to work because I would leave at 8:00 AM and not get home until 9:30 PM. I didn’t want to be distracted from learning in the classroom by hunger. However, that fear has persisted even while I am in between my Summer and Fall semesters and I’m not sure why or how to make it go away or whether I even want it to go away. This is something I have not yet discussed with my therapist because I have other more pressing issues that need to be dealt with during my therapy hour. Both chihuahua’s are napping right now on the couch and it’s mid-afternoon on a Sunday. I have nothing that I absolutely have to do, which is a nice feeling, although I should do some laundry later today. It’s nice to not have to do things, or to have things to stress over like having to study. Studying takes a lot of energy and makes me tired. There is going to be a lot of reading for grad school and chances are I might not get all of the reading done on time every week which won’t be good. That’s what study groups are for, supposedly. I hosted a study group at my home over the summer and it was just me and another young woman in my class. We would both contribute snacks to the study session, or “study sesh” as she called it. She’s about five years younger than me which seems like a lot since I wasn’t previously familiar with colloquial statements such as “study sesh.” We didn’t use that abbreviation twelve years ago when I was just finishing my undergraduate studies. Interesting how times change.